“Libraries have something for everyone. Seeing the children engage with the books in such a positive way at an early age is wonderful”

Published on: 04 October 2023

BookTrust Storytime is back and coming soon to more than 2,500 libraries across England, Northern Ireland and Wales - encouraging even more families to use these special places.

Pic: Jacqui Lee

Dominique Sequoia is the Bookstart Outreach Officer for Libraries Unlimited, which runs 50 libraries in Devon and four in Torbay – most of which have taken part in BookTrust Storytime over the past two years.

Here, she shares how this special programme has been delivered so far by librarians - using brilliant books and interactive storytelling resources - to help families with children aged 0-5 experience the magic of sharing stories together.

How has BookTrust Storytime left a legacy at your libraries?

All our libraries have stocks of each year's BookTrust Storytime titles available for customers to borrow or reserve for free. With new titles coming each year, it has introduced staff, volunteers and families to books they may not have come across before. It's given us a focus to adapt or create new story times and bounce & rhyme times.

Is there anything you would like to build on or do differently for the next round of BookTrust Storytime?

I'd like to try some 'Toddler Take Over' sessions where we use all five of the books in one big activity-based session. There will be songs, stories, craft activities and toys which are based on this year's books. Children and families will be able to drop in, stay and play and collect stickers in their sticker book as they move around each area. It will be a mini book fest, celebrating each book title.

The book The Horse That Jumped, plus horses made in a craft activity

A horse craft activity linked to BookTrust Storytime 2022/2023 book The Horse That Jumped

How helpful do you find the different themes that each BookTrust Storytime book can bring to sessions?

Having a theme makes us think about different ways to put on sessions. It gives us a focus to plan the sessions around. For example, Nature Trail by Benjamin Zephaniah was the basis of delivering a minibeast session – singing songs like 'The Worm at the Bottom of the Garden', extending children's vocabulary by naming all the creatures in the beautifully illustrated book, doing a nature trail picture hunt around the library, and making ladybird pictures to take home.

How have libraries found their own ways to experiment with BookTrust Storytime and develop their own creative ideas?

There is so much flexibility in how we use the BookTrust Storytime resources. One library linked with some drama students to help deliver sessions, where the books came to life! Other libraries have used the resources to offer sessions at a variety of different times and days to attract new library users who may not be able to make it to their regular sessions. Some libraries take the resources into pre-schools or nurseries to promote libraries and a love of reading there.

The BookTrust Storytime 2022/23 book The Duck Who Didn't Like Water, plus a duck craft activity and duck and frog colouring sheet

The BookTrust Storytime 2022/23 book The Duck Who Didn't Like Water, plus a duck craft activity and duck and frog colouring sheet

What do you think families and children that participated in BookTrust Storytime have valued the most?

Families are reassured that the books have been chosen with care for their little ones to enjoy. They like voting for their favourites and collecting stickers in their free activity book.

What has it been like to see families' reactions to BookTrust Storytime?

Seeing the children engage with the books in such a positive way at an early age is wonderful. Some children have never been in a group setting before but are welcomed and included yet free to join in or just watch or do their own thing as they choose. Parents and carers have made connections which turn into friendships.

Why are initiatives like BookTrust Storytime needed?

BookTrust Storytime offers great book titles with supporting activities to help take stories to another level for young children. In today's digital age, children are exposed to screens everywhere so now more than ever we need to ensure there are places that provide a space to enjoy books, stories and rhymes - with practitioners who are passionate about delivering high quality, fun sessions to give children a great start on their reading journey.

Find out more about the impact of BookTrust Storytime

Check out and download our activity sheets for bringing stories to life

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